1902 Encyclopedia > Pilchard


PILCHARD (Clupea pilchardus), a fish of the herring family (Clupeidae), abundant in the Mediterranean and on the Atlantic coasts of Europe, northwards to the British Channel. Sardine is another name for the same fish, which on the coast of Britanny and Normandy is also called Célan or Céléren. It is readily distinguished from the other European species of Clupea or herrings. The operculum is sculptured with ridges radiating and descending towards the suboperculum; the scales are large, about thirty along the lateral line, deciduous , the ventral fins are inserted below, or nearly below, the middle of the base of the dorsal fin; the dorsal fin has seventeen or eighteen, the anal from nineteen to twenty-one rays. A small blackish spot in the scapulary region is very constant, and sometimes succeeded by other similar marks. There are no teeth on the palate; pyloric appendages exist in great numbers; the vertebrae number fifty-three. The pilchard is one of the most important fishes of the English Channel (see article FISHERIES, vol. ix. p. 253 sq.). It spawns at a distance from the shore, and, according to Couch, the spawn has been seen to extend several miles in length, and a mile or more in breadth floating on the surface of the sea, of the thickness of brown paper, and so tough as not to be readily torn in pieces. The spawning takes place at two periods of the year, viz., in April or May, and again in the early part of autumn; but it is not probable that the same individuals or shoals spawn twice in the same year. When commencing their migrations towards the land, the shoals consist of countless numbers, but they break up into smaller companies in close vicinity to the shore. Pilchards feed on minute crustaceans and other animalcules, and require two or three years before they attain their full size, which is about 10 inches in length. On the Pacific coasts of America, in New Zealand, and in Japan a pilchard occurs (Clupea sagax) which in its characters and habits is so similar to the European pilchard that its general utilization is deserving of attention, and there is every reason to believe that New Zealand could produce its own sardines and fumadoes. Immense shoals are reported to visit the east coast of Otago every year in February and March.

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